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The notoriously haunted Villisca Axe Murder House is a dream that can quickly turn into a nightmare!
The Villisca Axe Murder House is one of the most legendary hauntings within the state of Iowa.
Activity reported at this location includes footsteps, giggles, noises, shadows, and objects moving.
Sitting quietly on East 2nd street in Villisca, Iowa is an old, white-frame house. As you pull up, the only indication that this small house holds the story of brutal axe murders is the sign standing out front.
You can think about what Villisca looked like more than a century ago. A quiet, small-town that never had much trouble. That is, until the fateful day a killer found an axe and left eight victims in his wake.
You’ve heard about it but now you’re finally here! This is a dream location that can quickly turn into a nightmare! You’ve arrived at the infamous Villisca Axe Murder House! Now get ready to step inside!
The Villisca Axe Murder House was built by George Loomis in 1868. In 1903, the house was sold to the Josiah Moore family. The Moore family remained in the the house for 9 years, until one horrific night.
On June 10, 1912 The Moore family (Josiah, Sarah, and their children Herman, Mary, Arthur, and Paul) attended a program at the local Presbyterian Church. The family then arrived home around 10pm.
Staying at the home with the Moore family on this night were sisters Ina Mae (8) and Lena Gertrude Stillinger (12). They were friends of Mary Moore (8) and were permitted to stay over after church.
The next morning, neighbor Mary Peckham noticed the family had not come outside to do any of the usual chores. Mary knocked on the door, but no one answered, and she discovered the door was locked.
Mary Peckham took care of the Moore’s chickens, then contacted Josiah Moore’s brother Ross. Ross Moore also received no answer when knocking on the door, so he used his own key to get inside.
As Mary Peckham stood on the porch. Ross Moore walked through the parlor to the guest bedroom. Upon opening the door, he found the murdered bodies of Ina and Lena Stillinger lying on the bed.
Ross Moore and Mary Peckham contacted Hank Horton, who served as a peace officer in Villisca. Horton conducted a search of the house to find all members of the Moore family were also murdered.
The axe that was used to commit the heinous crimes had been left behind in the guest bedroom where the bodies of the Stillinger sisters were found. The axe was found to have belonged to Josiah Moore.
Medical staff and law enforcement began to piece together the events of June 11. The best estimate of the time of death was somewhere late into the night, most likely between midnight and 5:00am.
Two cigarette butts were found in the attic. It seemed that the killer (or killers) waited in the attic until the Moore family and their guests went to sleep before coming downstairs to commit the murders.
It was believed that Josiah and Sarah Moore were murdered first in the master bedroom. Josiah was hit so many times with the blade end of the axe that his eyes were missing. Sara was hit with the blunt end.
After the murders of Sarah and Josiah, the children were all bludgeoned to death in their rooms. The killer(s) then returned to Sarah and Josiah’s room and committed further violence to their bodies.
The return to Sarah and Josiah’s room resulted in a shoe filled with blood being knocked over. The killer(s) went to the guest bedroom to kill Ina and Lena before dropping the axe and fleeing the home.
Investigators determined that Lena Stillinger had been awake during the murders. In spotting a wound on her arm, it was believed she tried to fight back and may have suffered a sexual assault.
Due to the horrifying nature of the crimes in the otherwise sleepy town of Villisca, the town sought suspects for the murders. Reverend Lyn George Kelly was considered to be the most likely culprit.
Reverend Kelly was a traveling minister who was considered quite peculiar. He had previously been accused of several lewd acts involving young women and girls before arriving in Villisca on June 8, 1912.
Reverend Kelly taught Children’s day services at the same church the Moore family attended. Curiously, he also left town sometime between 5am and 5:30am on June 10, before the murders were discovered.
Reverend Kelly confessed to the murders in court, but the jury refused to believe him. Five years later, Kelly was arrested. Kelly confessed to the murders, then recanted, and was then acquitted twice at trial.
Reverend Kelly was the most likely suspect, but he wasn’t the only one. Senator Frank F Jones employed Josiah Moore until Moore opened his own store in 1908, taking the John Deere franchise with him.
William Mansfield was believed to be hired by Frank F Jones to commit the murders. However, Mansfield (who also went by George Worley and Jack Turnbaugh) had a solid alibi placing him in Illinois.
In Missouri, Henry Moore was convicted months after the Villisca crimes for murdering his mother and grandmother with an axe. It’s thought that in the Midwest Moore may have murdered 22 others.
Today, the Villisca Axe Murders remain officially unsolved. It’s unlikely anyone will ever know who the killer was. The house today has been restored and is often open for tours throughout the year.
The Villisca Axe Murder House has long been considered to be a “paranormal investigator’s dream”. This reputation may help explain why no family after the Moores ever stayed in the house for very long.
Take a few minutes to stand inside the house and get acquainted with the energies that exist. If you’re lucky to hear a train pass by, you may see a fog that has been reported to move throughout the house.
Equipment batteries drain inside the home, and disembodied footsteps and giggles are often heard. The attic has a dark feel and heaviness to the air as you stand in the area where a killer once waited.
The Villisca Axe Murder house may also have a strange effect on behavior. An investigator who spent the night in November of 2014 inexplicably stabbed himself in the chest while investigating activity.
The Villisca Axe Murder House is imprinted with the energy from those who were brutally murdered inside the home more than a century ago. Will one of the victims finally tell who was responsible?
Does this infamously haunted location serve as a place for the spirit of a killer to return? Perhaps he still drops by to admire his handiwork from a hundred years ago. Or maybe he’s looking to confess his crime.
When you join us for a night at the Villisca Axe Murder House, you will step inside the home with a legendary haunt. Be warned, this “paranormal investigator’s dream could quickly turn into a nightmare!